There are several ways to get up to Mt. Sterling in Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 5,842 ft.
You can hike up Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail or Baxter Creek Trail or even Long Bunk Trail from Little Cataloochee. But yesterday, we chose the quickest way up – Mount Sterling Trail from Mount Sterling Gap. Only 2.7 miles to the top. This was a destination hike, which means there’s not much to see or interpret until you get to the mountain. And then, wow!
Over twenty eager Friends of the Smokies hikers started at Sterling Gap and climbed and climbed. I was hot and sweating and we all stopped for water frequently. Once we got to the top, I dropped my pack and climbed the tower.
It’s well maintained and safe. Still, the climb takes you up in the air.
Hannah, my thirteen-year old granddaughter, is staying with us for a few days, since she’s in between summer camps. The last few steps gave her pause but she got up there. After lunch, she decided that she needed to climb the tower again without any fears.
“Come on, grandma,” she said. So I went back up the tower again with her.
I talked a little, just a little, about the significance of Mount Sterling Gap before and during the Civil War. You can find it in the Hiking Trails of the Smokies book. And then we strolled down to our cars. A short but wonderful hike in mid-summer.
Next month, August 23-24, we’re going up to Mt. Le Conte and stay at the lodge for a night. A few spots have become available. Want to go? It’s strenuous but nothing out of the ordinary for regular Smokies hikers. Don’t wait too long.
Here’s the link for the application.